‘Half of consumers change brands after Net research’

Consumers trust information they find on websites more than they trust conventional offline sources, according to new research. In addition, significant numbers of consumers who had decided to buy a particular brand changed their minds because of information they found online.

Just under half (42 per cent) of consumers surveyed for the research – conducted on behalf of AOL (UK) by the Henley Centre – said that even though they knew what brand of product or service they wanted to buy before going online, they switched brand choice after researching on the Net. This behaviour was particularly marked among those who claimed to be the most “brand loyal”.

AOL vice-president of interactive marketing Andy Jonesco says: “Once people go online, their behaviour changes dramatically and the more likely they are to try new things out, often at the expense of a brand they are far more familiar with or may always have bought in the past.”

More than half (56 per cent) of the consumers in the survey said they “look more favourably on certain brands” as a result of using the internet, while 53 per cent said they had come across a new brand that they had not previously been aware of.

Forty-five per cent said they had come across a new brand “which they then bought”, and about the same number (43 per cent) said they had decided not to buy a particular brand after researching online.

But the online effect does not stop there, Jonesco adds. “The information they obtain online, and the whole online experience, modifies brand perception offline.” Additionally, information provided by certain brands online is more trusted than information provided by the same brands offline.

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